The beautiful, vast landscapes of Alaska are some of the most incredible you might ever see.  Reaching into the Arctic, Alaska is a paradise when it comes to unexplored wilderness, breathtaking natural landscapes, and wildlife encounters.  Imagine watching a mother bear and her cubs catch salmon in the river or hiking across a vast, ancient glacier.  Both experiences, and much more, await in the state of Alaska.

Considering how large and relatively empty Alaska is, planning a trip here can take a lot of work.  Few roads criss cross the state and for much of the year travel to remote areas is simply impossible.  If you want to see Alaska without having to worry about travel issues or having to plan out complicated itineraries, consider signing up for an Alaskan cruise.  Running all summer long and visiting the more populated areas along Alaska’s coastline, cruises offer a chance to explore the culture and wilderness of Alaska from the luxury of a modern cruise ship.

What to Expect from the Ship

Alaskan cruise options run from large, modern mega-ships to small, intimate cruise lines with only a few hundred people aboard.  Deciding between the cruiselines and ship options will depend on what you want out of your trip.

Larger ships offer the same entertainment and service you’d expect on any mega-cruise ship, anywhere in the world.  They usually offer dozens of excursion options when you are in port and between ports you can often catch comedy shows, dance performances, movie nights, or head to the onboard nightclubs.

Small ships are very popular for cruisers who might want more personalized service or to see a different side to Alaska.  The smaller ships are more easily able to venture up rivers, into small coves, and port at smaller towns.  The entertainment aboard these smaller ships is also often times for specifically Alaskan focused with things like onboard naturalists and/or Alaska historians.

What to Expect from the Weather

Nearly all Alaska cruises take advantage of the long, cool summer days, sailing exclusively in the summer.  This means cruises are much more likely to book up and you are limited in your cruise date options but it also means great weather.  Summer days in Alaska can last nearly 24 hours with high temperatures usually around the low to mid 70s.

While Alaskan summers are usually beautiful, you should also consider that it does rain a bit during this season too.  Your best option is to dress in layers – taking advantage of the warm, clear summer days when you can but also being prepared for occasional rain or fog.  Your cruise ship will be monitoring the weather closely and you can usually ask excursion leaders what weather to expect before you disembark on daily trips.

What to Expect from the Excursions

In some cruising regions of the world, a good day off-ship is spent relaxing on a beach, cocktail in hand.  In Alaska though, excursions are much more active with options filled with adventure and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.  Popular excursions along the coast usually relate to either the culture of Alaska or the state’s incredible wildlife.

The Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show is a very fun, popular excursion you’ll see on cruise lines which allows you to see an important historic part of Alaska culture.  The Totem Bight State Historical Park is another great excursion where you can learn more about the indigenous tribes of Alaska and see beautifully carved totem poles.  Wildlife excursions are even more quickly booked up.  Try a whale watching trip, where you can not only see whales but often hear the sound of them “singing” with underwater microphones.  Take a natural hike with a local guide to see what birds and animals you can spot.  For a true Alaska highlight, don’t miss booking an excursion to one of the state’s glaciers.  In some place you can walk right up and touch them.  In other places, you can opt to fly over the glaciers or even walk right on top of them.

Photo Credit: sarowen via photopin cc

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